Race and Health Disparities

U.S. News and World Report addresses the vast differences in health outcomes between white and black Americans: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/black-americans-have-fewer-years-to-live-%e2%80%93-heres-why/ar-BBhuWCH?ocid=DELLDHP

The report is far from surprising. People from varying socioeconomic groups, which oftentimes parallel color lines, experience life differently. Family traditions, cultural assumptions and expectations, and hereditary predispositions affect how people live and the diseases from which they suffer.

I see many of the patterns mentioned in the article during my visits to Edwina’s apartment and in contrast to my own family’s lifestyle choices.

Edwina struggles with obesity and smoking, trying but never quite achieving the kinds of dietary changes that would enable her to lose weight and get the exercise she needs to make smoking an inconvenient pastime. Bruce and the girls and I wake up and have our running shoes on before we finish eating breakfast, making sure to leave enough time to hit the trail near our house before the work of the day begins.

The difference between Edwina’s world and mine, I believe, has little to do with personal motivations.

As noted in the article, many layers contribute to health disparities: education, lifestyle, environment, genes. The complexity is yet one more reason to quit pointing fingers and assigning blame when people get sick. It makes far more sense to begin peeling back the layers to understand what lies beneath.


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